As expected, the NFL has issued a three-game suspension to Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston. Winston is accused of grabbing an Uber driver’s crotch at a drive-through window in March 2016, after his rookie season. The driver, known only as Kate, told her story to Buzzfeed in November 2017.
Here’s the NFL’s statement, which says the driver’s account was “consistent and credible” and that Winston “violated the Personal Conduct Policy by touching the driver in an inappropriate and sexual manner without her consent.”
Because the suspension was negotiated with the NFLPA, there will be no appeal. Here’s Winston’s statement:
“The NFL informed me today that I will be suspended for the first three games of the season.
“First and foremost, I would like to say I’m sorry to the Uber driver for the position I put you in. It is uncharacteristic of me and I genuinely apologize. In the past 2 1/2 years my life has been filled with experiences, opportunities and events that have helped me grow, mature and learn, including the fact that I have eliminated alcohol from my life.
“I know I have to hold myself to a higher standard on and off the field and that I have a responsibility to my family, community, and teammates to live above the platform with which God has blessed me. I apologize to my teammates, the Buccaneers organization and fans for letting them down and for not being able to be out there for the first three games of the season. Although I am disappointed in the NFL’s decision, I understand the NFL’s process, and I embrace this as an opportunity to take advantage of the resources available to help me achieve the goals that I have for myself.
“I now look forward to putting this behind me and I will continue to work hard every day to be a positive influence in my community and be the best person, teammate and leader I can be.”
Okay, first of all, Jameis: Fuck off. He apologizes to the driver “for the position I put you in,” which is a masterclass in appearing to own up to what he did without even coming within the same zip code of acknowledging it. So let’s again read Kate’s story:
“Jameis behaved poorly” by shouting, in part, homophobic slurs at pedestrians, said Kate, who did not want to be identified by her full name for fear of negative attention and potential backlash from football fans. He then asked to stop for food.
Waiting in line at the drive-thru of Los Betos Mexican Food, “he reached over and he just grabbed my crotch,” Kate said, alleging that Winston held his hand there for three to five seconds and removed it only after she looked up in shock and said, “What’s up with that?”
“I wasn’t just creeped out,” said Kate, who had been driving with Uber for more than two years at that point. (She no longer drives for the service.) “I was frozen.” She described Winston as “very physically imposing.”
Second, Winston blames alcohol for what happened, but let’s look again at the statement he issued upon the story’s publication. It read, in part:
A news organization has published a story about me regarding an alleged incident involving a female Uber driver from approximately two years ago. The story falsely accuses me of making inappropriate contact with this driver. I believe the driver was confused as to the number of passengers in the car and who was sitting next to her.
The driver had said Winston was the only passenger in her car, but Winston, trying to discredit her, immediately claimed there had been other passengers. (Ronald Darby, Winston’s FSU teammate and witness in his rape case, went public to claim he had been in the car too.) Of course, it came out last week that the woman was telling the truth; Winston was alone with the driver in the car. So, back to alcohol. Was the alcohol responsible for Winston lying in his statement 20 months after the incident? Or is that part of the process of becoming a leader?